Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
UPDATE
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
UPDATE
The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.

COVID-19 Treatments and Medications

COVID-19 Treatments and Medications
Updated Jan. 18, 2024

This page provides a treatment overview for the general public.

For healthcare providers: Interim Clinical Considerations for COVID-19 Treatment in Outpatients

What You Need to Know
  • If you have COVID-19 and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available that can reduce your risk of hospitalization and death.
  • Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within 5-7 days after you first develop symptoms.
  • Other medications can help reduce symptoms and help you manage your illness.
  • The Treatment Locator (hhs.gov) can help you find a location that offers testing and treatment or a pharmacy where you can fill your prescription.
  • Learn more about what to do if you are sick.

Treating COVID-19

illustration of older woman speaking on mobile phone with doctor

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. You can treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help feel better.

If you have COVID-19 and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of being hospitalized or dying from the disease. Medications to treat COVID-19 must be prescribed by a healthcare provider or pharmacist and started within 5–7 days after symptoms appear. Contact a healthcare provider right away to determine if you are eligible for treatment, even if your symptoms are currently mild.

Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within 5–7 days of when you first develop symptoms.

People who are more likely to get very sick include

Being vaccinated makes you much less likely to get very sick. But studies have shown that vaccinated people, especially those at risk for severe illness, including those ages 65 and older, may still benefit from treatment. A healthcare provider will help decide which treatment, if any, is right for you. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are taking other medications to make sure the COVID-19 treatments can be safely taken at the same time.

Treatments

patient receiving treatment pamphlet from healthcare provider

FDA has authorized or approved several antiviral medications used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people who are more likely to get very sick.

  • Antiviral treatments target specific parts of the virus to stop it from multiplying in the body, helping to prevent severe illness and death.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines for healthcare providers to help them work with their patients and determine the best treatment options for them. Several options are available for treating COVID-19. They include:

Treatment

Treatment

Treatment

Who (Among persons who are at high risk of getting sick)

Who (Among persons who are at high risk of getting sick)

Who (Among persons who are at high risk of getting sick)

When

When

When

How

How

How

Adults; children ages 12 years and older

Who (Among persons who are at high risk of getting sick)

Adults; children ages 12 years and older

Start as soon as possible; must begin within 5 days of when symptoms start

When

Start as soon as possible; must begin within 5 days of when symptoms start

Taken at home by mouth (orally)

How

Taken at home by mouth (orally)

Treatment

Adults and children

Who (Among persons who are at high risk of getting sick)

Adults and children

Start as soon as possible; must begin within 7 days of when symptoms start

When

Start as soon as possible; must begin within 7 days of when symptoms start

Intravenous (IV) infusions at a healthcare facility for 3 consecutive days

How

Intravenous (IV) infusions at a healthcare facility for 3 consecutive days

Treatment

Adults

Who (Among persons who are at high risk of getting sick)

Adults

Start as soon as possible; must begin within 5 days of when symptoms start

When

Start as soon as possible; must begin within 5 days of when symptoms start

Taken at home by mouth (orally)

How

Taken at home by mouth (orally)

ANTIVIRAL

Who
Adults; children ages 12 years and older

When
Start as soon as possible; must begin within 5 days of when symptoms start

How
Taken at home by mouth (orally)

ANTIVIRAL

Who
Adults and children

When
Start as soon as possible; must begin within 7 days of when symptoms start

How
Intravenous (IV) infusions at a healthcare facility for 3 consecutive days

ANTIVIRAL

Who
Adults

When
Start as soon as possible; must begin within 5 days of when symptoms start

How
Taken at home by mouth (orally)

Some treatments might have side effects or interact with other medications you are taking. Ask a healthcare provider if medications to treat COVID-19 are right for you. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, visit a Test to Treat location or contact your local community health center or health department.

If you are hospitalized, your healthcare provider might use other types of treatments, depending on how sick you are. These could include medications to treat the virus, reduce an overactive immune response, or treat COVID-19 complications.

If you have a weakened immune system, have received antiviral treatment, and continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend additional treatment , including convalescent plasma.

COVID-19 Rebound

COVID-19 rebound is a return of symptoms or a new positive test 3-7 days after recovering from the initial illness, or after having tested negative for COVID-19. People may experience rebound whether they received COVID-19 antiviral treatment or not. Rebound symptoms are typically mild.

Studies suggest there is no increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness in people who experience COVID-19 rebound after antiviral treatment.

The benefits of COVID-19 treatment outweigh the risk of rebound if you are at high risk for severe COVID-19. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you may have rebound. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, visit a Test to Treat location or contact your local community health center or health department.

Watch ASL Video: Get Treatment for COVID-19

Treatment Locator

Click the button below or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to find a location that offers testing and treatment or a pharmacy where you can fill your prescription.

View Locations

COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, Paxlovid and Lagevrio, began transitioning to the commercial market on November 1, 2023. If you get sick, Paxlovid and Lagevrio will continue to be available during and after this transition. Patient assistance programs are available to people who are underinsured, uninsured, or on Medicaid or Medicare to lower their out-of-pocket costs. Call ahead to your healthcare provider and insurer to confirm supply and coverage eligibility.

The right medications for COVID-19 can help. But people have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not approved for use to treat or prevent COVID-19, even products approved or prescribed for other uses. Talk to a healthcare provider about taking medications to treat COVID-19.

Home Test to Treat: The Home Test to Treat program provides access to free (dispensing fees may apply) COVID-19 and flu testing, telehealth visits, and treatment for anyone who tests positive for either condition. Treatment can be shipped to you or picked up at a local pharmacy at no cost for those eligible.

Individuals who are uninsured, enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, IHS, or VA Healthcare can sign up and receive free at-home COVID-19/flu tests even if they are not currently positive. Regardless of insurance status, anyone with a current positive COVID-19 or flu test may enroll for free telehealth and treatment. Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to learn more about the Home Test to Treat program.

Preventing COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States effectively protect people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying. As with vaccines for other diseases, you are protected best when you stay up to date. CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

To find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.